September 28, 2011

Pangong Tso

I have fallen in love with this place since the time I saw hindi movie 3 Idiot. Climax of the movie is shot here at the lake.

We started early in the morning and reached in about 5 hours. Like Khardugla pass; here we travelled via Changla pass. 

En route we saw a small herd of yaks. Even at one place yak ride was available. Since the time we left Mumbai; Amit must have said “I am going to take Yak ride” hundreds of time; I had doubt if it is available anywhere. But when we found place where tourist were riding the Yak; he felt it was uninteresting because Yak was pretty calm and not wicked like my camel Marie. 

Like sand dunes in Nubra valley; here as well small area was covered with sand. 

Finally after 5 hours of drive we reached Pangong lake. It is a salt water lake. Such huge water body. It is only 30% in India and 70% in China. 30% is also big enough. Sadly it was cloudy on that day; otherwise I heard that we can see 7 colors of lake on bright sunny day. Well we could see two three.

On the way back; river side was so photogenic that we stopped for the photo. Now when I see it on bigger screen; it seems to be stolen from some website. ;)

This was the last day in Leh; next day we had early morning flight. Night I slept with heart full of great feelings; no more mixture; no more anxiety. 
Although Leh-Ladakh is touristy but not commercialized. And the best part... people in Ladakh; all of them were extremely hospitable and always ready to help. 
It is not always the place but the people also make the trip memorable. 

September 21, 2011

A day not as we expected

After Nubra Valley trip; we were all set to visit Pangong lake. But Amit was down by throat infection and flu. So we postpone our trip and decided to see the doctor. Amit became terribly upset with sudden illness. But I have kind of anticipated it. 
Well... honestly speaking his illness has given us a chance to just enjoy a free day. I was sitting in the balcony watching summer sky; I guess for the first time; having no worries, no thoughts cluttering mind; no regrets; just calm and quite mind. 
The day was not as we expected but certainly I believe it was the most relaxing day. 

Summer sky

September 17, 2011

Nubra Valley

Continued our journey from Khardungla pass; first stop was Sumur Monastery. This was built in 1841 and most important monastery in Nubra valley. Like Thiksey Monastery; this also has huge statue of Maiterya. 

In the monastery campus we found lots of apple trees and one apricot tree. This was the first time I ate apricot directly from tree and not dried form. Like a child I picked up handful of apricots that had fallen around tree.  

Later we visited an unusual place. I could never imagine it exists in the mountainous terrain. It was sand dunes. From a distance; it felt as if someone has created it with tones of sand and is not natural. But it was very much natural; a wonder of nature. 

As it was a tourist spot; we even enjoyed the double hump camel ride. My camel Marie was really naughty; I was not even seated properly on her back and she started walking as  her own (without anybody holding her leash-- scary).  

This day was full of excitement. In a single day I witnessed mountains, river, green pastures, snow, desert and everything within 100km. So much of diversity in such small area was definitely a nature’s wonder.

Later we retired in the guesthouse in Diskit village. Next day morning before we start our journey back to Leh; our host offered us a local speciality butter tea. Strangely it had pinkish color and made of salted butter and tea leaves. I liked it but couldn’t finished more than half cup.

After returning to Leh; first time we took round in Leh city. Found one rooftop restaurant. I ate mouthwatering grilled sandwich and Amit had hearty Chicken Thukpa (noodle soup with chicken).

September 14, 2011

Khardungla Pass

This is our third day in Ladakh; it seems we are acclimatized enough to explore the territories on more higher altitude. 
As we started our journey towards Nubra Valley; we realized how difficult and rugged the terrain is. 

Initially the drive was scary but when we reached closer to the snow covered mountains it became absolute fun.

We halted at Khardungla Pass which is considered as world’s highest motor-able road; altitude is 18380 ft. It was summer but totally covered with snow. It has cafeteria also.
This was the first time I have touched and played with real snow. It was like dream come true.  

As the altitude sickness chances are more here; we decided to descend to Nubra Valley.

September 13, 2011

Hemis & Thiksey Monastery

Today is the day of local sight seeing; agenda was to visit Hemis, thiksey monastery and shey palace. But to due rain and our body rejected to climb so many steps in low oxygen; we could only visit Hemis & Thiksey Monastery.

Hemis Monastery is the largest in Ladakh and it belongs to Drukpa Lineage. It has more than 200 branches in the Himalayas and more than 1000 monks under its care. It was re-established in 1672 by Ladakhi King. It was existed before 11th of century.

Monastery walls are filled with mural paintings. Hemis festival is held in early June in the honor of Lord Padmasambhava.

Thiksey Monastery was built in 1433 and is situated on hillock over looking Indus Valley. It is a 12-storey complex and houses many items of Buddhist art such as stupas, statues, thankas, wall paintings and swords.
It was lunch time when we reached here. Had lunch and decided to climb several zig zag steps. Otherwise and at other places it is not much difficult but due to cold and less oxygen; after 4-5 steps breathing becomes heavy. One thought came in mind to give up and go back. But I heard someone saying there is a huge statue in the monastery which is must see. And I stared climbing the steps.
It was worth the efforts. The magnificent 15 meters high statue of Maitreya was covering two storeys of the building. View from above was breathtaking.

September 12, 2011

Ladakh - Journey Continues....

First day in Leh; as suggested by all the people on internet; we decided to rest. Do nothing but eat, watch TV and sleep.

After reaching our little but wonderful guest house; we ordered some food. Our host said that she will cook vegetable from whatever available from the garden. After the snow covered mountains; this was the second best thing I ever wanted to do or see. She cooked vegetable from cabbage, carrot and capsicum and topped with fresh coriander leaves; everything from her small garden.

Our Rainbow Guesthouse

As we started eating; somehow I didn’t like the taste of it but then I realized this was the first time in my life I am eating so fresh vegetables. The taste was not bad or good it was fresh.

Spent sometime in the evening sipping hot cup of tea and chatting with an Italian girl staying in next room. I was totally envious of her because I found she has seen more India than me. :)

Vegetable Garden

Sit-out in Guesthouse

Night was chilly. Tried to sleep early but heart was pounding with mixture of feelings.

View from Guesthouse - Shanti Stupa